Everyday between the hours of 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., Rob Gronkowski receives a flood of tweets to his Twitter account, asking him to visit Emerson’s campus. At noon, Mark Wahlberg and his family members get a similar rush of tweets.
This usage of social media is part of a project in David Gerzof Richard’s social media course. The assignment splits the class into two groups—one is in charge of attracting the attention of Gronkowski, who plays for the New England Patriots, and the other for Wahlberg, an actor from Boston. The students must use social media to convince these famous names to come to Emerson to teach a marketing class, according to Gerzof Richard, a marketing communication professor.
The class of 22 students chose the two celebrities because they are from Boston, according to Gerzof Richard.
“We’re using social media as a tool and integrating it into marketing,” said Gerzof Richard.
Students first conduct research on the celebrities to determine when they are active on Twitter and other social networks, according to Gerzof Richard. By monitoring their posts on social networks, the class learns their schedules and behaviors.
“There is a matrix of tweets,” he said. “Pretty soon you see when they are asleep, when they wake up, and when they tweet.”
Dominique Banas, a senior broadcast journalism major, said class members assign someone to go through the celebrities’ Twitter timelines.
“It was tedious,” said Banas “It was tedious to try to find a pattern.”
The students then turn to Tweetdeck or HootSuite, apps that can manage multiple social media accounts, to schedule their tweets to be posted at a certain time. At the designated hour, the entire group’s tweets are sent to the celebrity simultaneously, according to Banas.
Gerzof Richard said it is much more effective to fill Wahlberg’s or Gronkowski’s account with many tweets at the same time, instead of just one.
“Together, their voice is much stronger than one,” he said.
Gerzof Rochard said the best tweets that will get the most attention have a call to action, a statement that prompts someone to do something. The action for this project is to ask for the celebrity to come visit their class.
Banas said creativity also plays a major role.
“We are working out ways to break through the noise and gain his attention, and creative ways break through the noise,” she said.
One way they used creativity was by creating two hashtags — #markymarketing and #spikeourprof — to use in their tweets, said Gerzof Richard.
Andrew Staub, a junior marketing communication major, said he used another original idea to make a poster depicting Gronkowski and Wahlberg battling, which was posted on Twitter.
“Two men enter — only one gets the honor of teaching a marketing class,” the poster reads.
Staub said the poster shows how excited he is about the project.
“It’s a graphic that represents what we are actually doing,” he said.
Staub said the students created memes and a Tumblr blog to get further attention. He said he also plans to create a video for the project that will be posted on multiple social networks.
Gerzof Richard said this project is relatively new, and has seen mixed success. Last year, his students were able to bring athlete Chad Ochocinco to class, he said, but they were not able to persuade Curt Schilling, a baseball player.
Gerzof Richard said the class’s ability to attract a celebrity depends on the celebrity’s prominence and the class’s creativity. For example, Wahlberg does not use Twitter very often, which presented a challenge for the class, Gerzof Richard said. The students had to also reach out to his family members and local businesses to get his attention, because they are more active on the social network.
But students this semester said they are still hopeful.
“We have a great chance,” Banas said. “Right now is seems outlandish, but if we think out of the box, we can definitely get their attention.”